Gilligan’s Island was broadcast from 1964 until the final episode on April 17, 1967. It was never a ratings winner but became a cult hit that many over 60s still love today!
It’s been 49 years since that last episode but it still screens around the world! Who could forget that theme song or those characters who became shipwrecked on the island?
Gilligan, Skipper, Ginger, Mary Ann, The Professor, The Millionaires, and Calvinist all stranded… what possibly could happen?
Here’s some fun trivia about the show we all loved!
1. The millionaire’s wife was a millionaire in real life
Natalie Schafer, who played Mrs Lovey Howell was a real-life millionaire – she had a large real estate portfolio with her husband. Interestingly, when she died in 1991, Schafer gave a large chunk of her fortune to her teacup poodle, and when it died, to donate the leftover money to the Motion Picture and Television Hospital.
2. Dawn Wells still gets royalties from the show
All of the actors signed contracts that guaranteed them a certain amount of money per original episode plus a payment for up to five repeats. This was before syndication – little did the cast know the show would be still airing 40+ years on. But Dawn Wells’ then-husband, talent agent Larry Rosen, advised her to ask for an amendment to that residual clause in her contract, and the producers granted it, never thinking the series would be syndicated.
3. Raquel Welch actually auditioned for Mary Ann
One actress who auditioned for Mary Ann’s part was the stunning Raquel Welch, but it’s clear why she didn’t exactly pull off the “girl next door”!
4. The ship’s name, S. S. Minnow, was not named after the fish
It was actually named after Newton Minow, head of the Federal Communications Commission in 1961. Minow called television “America’s vast wasteland”. Creator Sherwood Schwartz did not care for Minow so he named the shipwrecked ship after him!
5. The story behind “little buddy”
Alan Hale Jr called everyone “little buddy”. “Little buddy” became the Skipper’s signature term of affection for Gilligan. It is now used by fans as a nickname for Bob Denver.
6. The real island
The island shown in the opening and closing credits is actually located in Kaneohe Bay, off the island of Oahu, Hawaii.
7. It was supposed to come back on air
The show was originally supposed to return for the 1967-68 television season but was cancelled at the last minute to make room for Gunsmoke (1955).
8. The cast all lived long lives
The producer and main cast all lived for a long amount of time. Sherwood Schwartz lived to be 94 and Natalie Schafer, lived to 90. Bob Denver (Gilligan) died at 70, Russell Johnson (the Professor) died at 89.
9. The most prepared three hour tour ever!
Although they were on “a three hour tour,” the castaways had heaps of supplies. Mary Ann and Ginger never wore the same clothes twice, the Professor has an extensively library, the Howells have myriad luxury items, and so on.
10. Gilligan’s first name is Willy
According to Schwartz’s original notes, Gilligan’s first name was intended to be “Willy”. Yet Bob Denver always insisted that “Gilligan” was the character’s first name. “Almost every time I see Bob Denver we still argue,”Schwartz once admitted. “He thinks Gilligan is his first name, and I think it’s his last name. Because in the original presentation, it’s Willy Gilligan. But he doesn’t believe it, and he doesn’t want to discuss it. He insists the name is Gilligan”.
11. The JFK assassination delayed filming
The pilot for the series was filmed over several days in November of 1963 on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. The last day of shooting was scheduled for November 23, 1963 in Honolulu Harbor for the scenes showing the S.S. Minnow embarking on its fateful three-hour tour. Late in the morning on November 22, a crew member ran to the set and announced that he’d just heard on the radio that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. Filming was delayed by several days because the harbor was closed and in the opening credits, the American flag can be seen flying at half-mast in the background.